Supportive Policies and Programs Overview

Federal Policy: 

There are a number of Federal programs that currently support (or can be used to support) planning for or building TOD.  Examples include the New Starts transit capital program, which awards points in the application process to proposed transit projects with transit-supportive land use characteristics, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, which allows states to adopt criteria that prioritize affordable housing projects located near transit.   

Authorizing Legislation: 

Many states have adopted legislation that establishes authority for localities to create TOD districts or special zones that can enact tax increment financing, be prioritized for transportation funds or receive other benefits.  For example, the California Transit Development Planning Act of 1994 (California Code, Section 65460) allows cities and counties to designate transit villages within 1/2 mile of transit stations and makes these districts eligible for transportation funding, gives them access to expedited permitting and encourages localities to enact density bonuses there.

Design Guidelines:

States, regions, cities or transit agencies can adopt guidelines that outline an agency’s support for TOD and give recommended land uses and design characteristics in TOD zones.  For example, the Florida DOT is developing TOD Design Guidelines to aid local governments and public agencies in planning for and implementing transit, with a particular focus on land use and urban design policies in transit corridors (  The Dallas Area Rapid Transit Agency DART has also created Transit-Oriented Development Guidelines to promote TOD around DART transit facilities.  The Guidelines were designed as an informational handbook to assist the general public and the development community in understanding DART’s approach to TOD and transit facility design.  It is intended to help developers succeed in the TOD projects (

Local Zoning:

TOD-supportive zoning will vary depending on the local context but typically includes higher density, mixed-use development, reduced parking requirements and/or special affordable housing policies near transit.

Direct Funding & Financial Incentive Programs:

Programs that provide grants, loans, tax credits, or direct financial incentives to TOD projects or plans have been sorted into three categories:

  1. Planning – funds to conduct corridor, district or station area TOD planning.
  2. Implementation – funds for construction of projects or infrastructure in a TOD district.
  3. Property Acquisition – funds dedicated to acquiring property or land banking in locations near transit.


Source: 2010 Inventory of TOD Programs: A National Review of State, Regional and Local Programs that Fund Transit-Oriented Development Plans and Projects (January 2011, Reconnecting America)

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